Don’t Get Caught In The Skills Trap

In a fluid employment market where the blend between work and home life is getting blurrier, allied for the needs to ensure productivity and team work is essential to ‘get the job done’ it can be hard for hiring managers to pitch the JD correctly. In the world of ocean tech, we’re seeing a smaller pool of candidates for roles that are essential to the forward march of progress in the  face of global uncertainly. It’s this uncertainly that is driving hiring manager to consider and businesses to re-consider how they hire and importantly how they keep talent. To try and unravel this, Oi spoke to Tanya Lush at Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) looking for her insights  about the modern employment  market.

To support the interview with Tanya, we also caught up with Inside Publications  they kindly let us have access to editorial focusing on How To Inspire A New Generation.

How we can inspire a new generation into engineering

It is no secret that the engineering sector is experiencing a shortage of workers. In fact, research shows that the industry will need to train and employ around 200,000 people by 2024 to fill the gap.

This article explores how a business can inspire students and professionals to become the engineers of tomorrow. First and foremost, a business can focus on encouraging young people into engineering, whether they are secondary-school leavers or graduates seeking roles within the industry.

Partnering with schools

In order to do this, a business should consider partnering with educational institutions to inspire people before they enter higher education. One way to do this is by offering career events in secondary schools. These events enlighten young people about the inner workings of the industry, such as using complex building design software that they would not have previously come into contact with.

As well as this, engineering businesses can make graduate programmes available to those leaving university. Multiple institutions are willing to partner with reputable businesses. For example, Teesside University and ITS Ltd, a specialist automation systems developer, came together in an effort to tackle industry staff shortages within the Northeast of England.

Worthwhile apprenticeships

A business can also offer engineering apprenticeships for school leavers. These schemes can train people interested in an engineering career, even if they do not want to attend university. The benefits of these for students are endless, from being able to work alongside professionals within the engineering industry, to prioritising 20% of their time to training and studying.   

Engineering apprenticeships, as well as other industry placements, are also available to seasoned workers as long as they’re over the age of 16. This approach could be critical to rebuilding the workforce, especially considering that 71% of engineering employers who are experiencing difficulties filling employment positions claim the issue lies with a lack of engineering or technical skills in the talent pool.

Graduate schemes

Additionally, a business can offer graduate programmes. These are a great way to connect with emerging talent in the industry, especially while the engineering sector is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers.

Graduate programmes are beneficial for both employers and employees. It is an attractive route for people wanting to break into the engineering industry, with research showing that the average salary for graduate engineering programmes is £28,000 in the UK. On the other hand, they are also a great way for businesses to employ and nurture new talent while they can. 

Recruit professionals

On the other hand, a business can help to solve the shortage of skilled workers by focusing on training and retaining professionals. 

It’s not uncommon for people to take a break from their careers. This might be to upskill in other areas, or to prioritise personal issues such as caring for family members. While common, it may be difficult for people to return to the workplace after this break.

In fact, this is also an issue within the engineering sector. Research shows that 40% of women who choose to take a prolonged break from their career in STEM to care for their children feel there are barriers to returning to their careers.

To tackle this, and encourage people to return to their STEM jobs, including engineering jobs, businesses can offer back-to-work schemes. These are common practices in some countries, where companies run 12-week paid return schemes or training schemes for potential workers.

Improve company culture

It is no secret that multiple businesses are struggling to retain their staff. The engineering sector is also experiencing this hardship, with research discovering that 32% of engineering workers left companies due to their employer’s company culture. The logical solution, therefore, would be to improve company culture wherever possible.

An engineering company can boost company culture in a number of ways. This can come in the form of employee recognition, social events, hybrid working schemes, or employee rewards. The trick is to have fun while doing it!

Career progression

Career progression is an attractive selling point in any career. No one wants to feel like they are stuck in the same position or same level for too long. This can become monotonous, possibly leading to employees leaving one company for another where they see better promotion prospects.

In fact, according to research, 86% of workers within engineering, as well as architecture and building industries, are eager to learn new work skills. Also, 28% believe career progression is one of the most important goals of their professional careers.

To ensure that employees feel fulfilled in their role, a business should create career progression plans. This can be something like offering educational courses that will continue to challenge their knowledge and work as a method of upskilling.


While it may take time and resources, there is hope that the industry will be able to fill the skills shortage in time. This process will be greatly helped if businesses do their part and encourage people – both school leavers and current employees – to become engineers.

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